Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Inspections Pick Up Steam

AFTER ISSUING emergency regulations in November, Cal/OSHA began to step up its enforcement of COVID-19 protections in California workplaces.

The types of business being cited cut across many sectors. Although most are focused on health care settings, the inspections are also sweeping up retailers, restaurants, fitness centers, agricultural operations, food processing and other manufacturing settings.

Since it issued the emergency regs to provide a framework for employers to reduce risks of their workers contracting COVID-19 while on the job, the workplace safety enforcement agency has issued citations to 75 employers, with proposed penalties totaling more than $1.54 million.

Most employers were cited for multiple COVID-19-related infractions.

Since Cal/OSHA started inspecting companies for failing to implement coronavirus safeguards last summer, it has issued $3.3 million worth of proposed penalties in total.


  • Failing to effectively establish, implement and maintain procedures to correct
    unhealthy conditions related to COVID-19 that affected a business’s employees.
  • Failing to notify Cal/OSHA of a COVID-19 fatality.
  • Failing to create a proper safety program.


A complaint

Often it’s either staff or a customer that contacts Cal/OSHA to complain about poor COVID-19 protections, as was the case when it received a complaint about a gym in Ventura.

Upon inspection, Cal/OSHA determined that the gym was not enforcing face covering use and physical distancing. It was cited for one willful-serious, two serious and six general violations.

Proposed penalties: $57,740.

Cal/OSHA cited a market in Oakland for multiple violations, including three serious.

This followed an inspection after local media reported that 17 workers tested positive for COVID-19, one of whom was hospitalized.

Cal/OSHA determined that Cardenas Market had failed to adequately address the potential outbreak of the coronavirus among workers by implementing preventative measures. The business did not initially implement or require facecoverings or masks, physical distancing or training of workers on coronavirus hazards. Cardenas Market also failed to immediately report a COVID-19-related serious illness.

Proposed penalties: $30,670.

A fatality

A large agricultural concern was cited for multiple violations including two serious, following a fatality-initiated inspection after an employee was hospitalized and died from COVID-19 after working at a carrot field in Holtsville.

Cal/OSHA found that the employer had failed to implement safety protocols for its farm workers and failed to train them on the COVID-19 hazards and prevention.

Proposed penalties: $30,600.

Report to Cal/OSHA Anytime There’s an Outbreak or Case

An accident

Sometimes Cal/OSHA shows up to conduct an inspection of an accident unrelated to the coronavirus and finds COVID-19-related infractions as well. This happened with a retailer in Gilroy. Cal/OSHA cited the shop for one regulatory and one serious citation following an accident inspection.

It found that the employer had failed to immediately report a COVID-19-related serious illness, and to establish, implement and maintain an effective Injury Illness Prevention Program.

Proposed penalties: $15,125.

The takeaway

As you can see, Cal/OSHA will inspect any employer for possible infractions, particularly if there are complaints or news about an outbreak at a workplace. If you have not already done so and you have staff working at a physical location, you should immediately establish safeguards that are in line with Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations.

Remember too: Those regulations not only require you to protect workers against COVID-19, but to also report to Cal/OSHA and other authorities anytime there is an outbreak or a case in your workplace.


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